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The CME Church | Tenth Episcopal District

The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, familiarly known as the CME Church, was organized December 16, 1870 in Jackson, Tennessee by 41 former slave members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Composed primarily of African Americans, the CME Church is a branch of Wesleyan Methodism founded and organized by John Wesley in England in 1844 and established in America as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784. The CME Church has more than 1.2 million members across the United States, and has missions and sister churches in Haiti, Jamaica and fourteen African nations.

The Tenth Episcopal District

The Tenth Episcopal District is in the continent of Africa comprised of the Western countries of Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo, under the current leadership of Bishop Ricky D. Helton; headquartered in Washington, DC.  The Tenth Episcopal District is the home of the Montgomery Breeding Bible College and the Elnora P. Hamb Library and Conference Centre both in Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria and the Christian Methodist Senior High School in Accra, Ghana.


Born in Concord, North Carolina, Bishop Ricky D. Helton was reared just a few miles away in the city of Charlotte. He matriculated in the Charlotte school system and graduated from the Independence High School in 1979. After High School, he was accepted into North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1983. Immediately following this, Bishop Helton applied and was accepted into Duke Theological Seminary where he completed a Master of Divinity degree in 1986. Not resting upon these academic achievements, Bishop Helton then enrolled into Hartford Theological Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut where he completed a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1992.

Bishop Ricky Helton's Christian experience began at an early age. He accepted the call into ministry at the age of seventeen during his 12th and final year in High School. In undergraduate school, he headed the largest Christian organization on campus for two years. He began pastoring immediately following his graduation from NCCU in 1983 at the Sweet Springs CME church in Holly Springs, North Carolina. His tenure there lasted four years. During those four years as pastor of Sweet Springs CME church, Bishop Helton also was a Campus Minister at Duke University and a certified Chaplain at Duke University Medical Center. In 1987, he transferred to Russell Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut. While in Bridgeport, Bishop Helton was extensively involved in civic and political activities. He remained in Bridgeport for seven years until he was transferred to the Lewis Temple CME Church in August of 1994.  While in Grambling, Bishop Helton joined the NAACP, the Board of Directors for the United Campus Ministries of Grambling State University, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA), and served on several community Boards to enhance the town of Grambling.  Along with his pastoral duties, Bishop Helton became an Associate Professor in the Earl Lester Coles' Honors College at Grambling State University for 10 and a half years. He also served as an Instructor at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) Extension Program and as an Instructor at Wiley College. He served as Chair of the COME for the Louisiana Region while in the Fourth Episcopal District.  In 2007, Bishop Helton was transferred to the historic Israel Metropolitan CME Church in Washington, DC. He served as a past President of the Alliance of CME Ministers in the greater Washington, DC area and was also a member of various civic and social groups. While in the Seventh Episcopal District he held the office of Chair of the Joint Board of Finance of the New York Washington Region and Chair of the Committee of Ministerial Examination.  He also held the position of Chair of the Committee on Episcopacy for the CME Church.

On June 29, 2022 Ricky D. Helton was elected the 67th Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, OH and assigned to the Tenth Episcopal District which comprises the countries of Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo in West Africa.

Bishop Helton enjoys writing, community organizing, and flying model aircraft. He is married to Loretta Shaw Helton. They have three lovely adult daughters, one son-in-law and a grandson.